A convicted killer who spent more than 36 years on death row in Tennessee was executed by electric chair on Thursday, the second time in five weeks that the state used electrocution to carry out a death sentence.
Corrections officials say 61-year-old David Earl Miller was pronounced dead at 7.25 pm Thursday at a Nashville maximum-security prison.
Both Miller and Edmund Zagorski before him chose the electric chair over lethal injection, a process proponents said would be painless and humane.
The execution came nearly two decades after the state adopted lethal injection as its preferred method. But the inmates argued in court that Tennessee’s current midazolam-based process causes a prolonged and torturous death. They pointed to the August execution of Billy Ray Irick, which took about 20 minutes and during which he coughed and huffed before turning a dark purple.
Moments before the execution, Miller was asked if he wanted to say anything, but his reply was not understandable. He was asked again and his attorney clarified that he was saying: “Beats being on death row.”
Media witness Travis Loller with the Associated Press said that, when Miller was asked for his last words, his first statement was unintelligible. Asked to repeat himself, reporters believe he said, “Beats being on death row.”
Miller, 61, was sentenced to death after he was convicted of murdering Lee Standifer, 23, in 1981.
Miller spent 36 years on Tennessee’s death row, the longest of any inmate.